Backgrounder: The Republic of Botswana

14:20, November 21, 2010      

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Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Botswana later Saturday. The following are some key facts about the country:

The Republic of Botswana is a sub-Sahara country located in southern Africa. It is bordered by Zimbabwe to the northeast, Namibia to the west and north, and South Africa to the south and southeast. It meets Zambia in the north at a single port. Botswana has an area of 580,000 square kilometers with Gaborone as its capital city.

The country has a population of 1.92 million, and English is its official language.

Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent on Sept. 30, 1966.

Botswana is one of the world's greatest development success stories. It was one of the poorest countries in Africa with a GDP per capita of about 70 U.S. dollars in 1966.

In the four decades following independence, the government adopted a free market economic system and many preferential policies to attract foreign investment and technologies, which brought stable and fast growth to the country's economy. In 2009, its GDP has risen to 7,258 dollars per capita.

The country's economy is heavily dependent on minerals, primarily diamonds, which contribute to about one third of the country's GDP. Other minerals include copper and nickel matte, coal, soda ash and gold.

The beef market is the traditional industry of the country, while the manufacture sector is less developed. Since the late 1980s, the government began exploring ways to diversify its economy and has seen many achievements.

Botswana has diverse areas of wildlife habitat. Its tourism industry has developed fast in recent years and has become the second largest source of Botswana's foreign exchange income.

China and Botswana established diplomatic ties on Jan. 6, 1975. Bilateral trade has jumped from 11.48 million dollars in 2000 to 231 million dollars in 2009. In the first nine months of 2010, bilateral trade reached 210 million dollars, up 20 percent from the same period of last year.

Source: Xinhua


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